Solange reading her favorite book
Solange is a 16-year-old girl from Burundi. She lived with her parents and four siblings in Bujumbura. Her father, a political leader in Burundi, was involved in organizing political campaigns, while her mother worked as a teacher in the local school. Solange resided at a nearby boarding school, where she enjoyed studying very much. She was an excellent student; her teachers would congratulate her for excellent academic performance and loved to boast her success to her parents during their frequent visits.
However, tragedy struck - in April 2015, her parents were abducted and killed by unknown people. Solange was in school and was not aware of what was happening at home. Once she was informed, she was released from school and taken to a safe place with family friends. However, due to her father’s political ties, it was deemed unsafe for her to remain in Burundi, so she made the journey to Kenya with a group of travelers. Upon her arrival, she was helped by a Kenyan woman to settle in and later was taken in by a Burundian family in Nairobi. Life was very hard and the family could not afford to take care of Solange’s needs. She cried every day, desperate to see her parents again.
One morning, Solange was heading to her appointment at UN refugee resettlement agency (UNHCR) and she was sexually assaulted by a stranger, who threatened to hurt her further if she told anyone. She was very scared and frustrated; she felt hopeless, and felt she had no one to turn to. Without her parents and her family, she was all alone without protection. Once Solange made her way to the UNHCR, her case manager there referred her to Heshima Kenya’s Safe House. At first, it was hard for her to cope. She was always thinking about her family, and would wake up crying, believing that her parents had just visited her in the Safe House. The overall trauma and grief she was experiencing affected her emotional stability for several months. Eventually, Solange was enrolled in intensive trauma and grief counseling. She slowly began to make close friends in the Safe House, and began to trust the staff. Her resilience began to emerge; she began to think positively about her future and focused on dealing with her grief through the support of her new family at the Safe House. She now reports feeling happy in her new home, and has hope she will be able to find her siblings some day.
Solange says: “I feel safe being in Heshima Kenya. I could not share my experience before with anyone. But in the Safe House, I found friends, it’s my second home. I feel alive again. I love studying and working hard. I hope to become a pilot in future.”
Donors like you ensure that healing and hopefulness is possible for girls like Solange. From the bottom of our hearts, we thank you.
Solange loves the joy she feels from dancing!